Friday, December 31, 2010

Studious Metsimus Presents The Happy/Crappy Recap For 2010

It's that time of year again, when we toss out our memories of the 42nd season in Mets history without a playoff sniff and think of what might be in 2011.

2011 will be a big year for the Mets and their fans in three respects. First, 2011 will mark the 25th anniversary of the 1986 World Champion Mets. Citi Field will surely have tributes throughout the year celebrating the players who brought Mets fans their most recent championship.

Second, 2011 will be the 50th season in Mets history. Mets fans have witnessed plenty over the past half-century. From Casey Stengel to Tom Seaver. From the Black Cat to the Miracle Mets. From "Ya Gotta Believe" to the Midnight Massacre. From (pause to catch my breath) the Magic Is Back to Davey Johnson. From "We're Gonna Dominate" to "Little Roller Up Along First". From Terry F. Pendleton to Mike F. Scioscia. From The Worst Team Money Could Buy to "I'll Show You The Bronx". From Generation K to Bobby V. From "L.A. Woman" to "Who Let The Dogs Out?". From Art Howe to the '06 division crown. From Shea Goodbye to "Why, Ollie, why?"

Speaking of Ollie. the third reason why 2011 will be big for the Mets and their fans is...drum roll, please...

Oliver Perez's albatross of a contract will expire at the end of the year!

There. I feel much better now that I got that out of my system. I'll also feel much better when 2011 begins because then the awful 2010 season will feel like it's more in the past. Instead of saying "do you remember when Frankie Knuckles played "Rock 'Em Sock 'Em In-Laws" with his girlfriend's father this year?", I'd end that sentence by saying "last year".

Let's face it. The Mets didn't give us much to cheer for in 2010. Should we cheer because Rod Barajas had one good month in him? Should we tear the roof off this sucka because our best pitcher was Mr. Thesaurus himself, R.A. Dickey? Should we party like it's 1999 because David Wright got his power stroke back at the expense of his batting average and higher strikeout totals?

If anything, this year's Happy/Crappy recap is mostly crappy for what happened on the field. However, for Studious Metsimus (the site and its staff), the year's recap will most certainly be happy.

On one hand, the site was mentioned on many well-known Mets sites. We were mentioned on Faith and Fear In Flushing, as well as MetsBlog, Mets Police and Mets Gazette, to name a few. We also moonlight as writers for two other sites, Mets Merized Online and Kiner's Korner. This exposure increased the Studious Metsimus readership exponentially to where it is today, with readers now numbering in the...wait for it...DOZENS!

Another happy moment for the Studious Metsimus staff came with all the road trips we made following the Mets. We sent our roving reporter/culinary expert Joey Beartran to Port St. Lucie in February, where he met (but forgot to interview) numerous current and former Mets. Despite his failure to score any interviews, Joey did find his way onto Bob Ojeda's Wikipedia page, so all was not lost.

The Late Winter Training trip was followed by road trips to Baltimore, Washington, San Francisco (where the Mets planted the seeds that the Giants watered and eventually blossomed into San Francisco's first World Series title), Philadelphia and Pittsburgh. Overall, we attended eight road games, witnessed our first walk-off loss (July 3 at Nationals Park - thanks, K-Rod!) and saw many beautiful cities...yes, even Philly.

There seems to be one other thing that the Studious Metsimus staff did this year that was quite memorable. Dare we say it, we believe it qualifies as the Happiest Recap of Them All! Perhaps this photo will help...
Photo taken by David G. Whitham

That's right. We got married, y'all! The lovely Taryn Cooper (of My Summer Family fame) became a part of the Studious Metsimus family (quite literally) on May 5. Of course, the Mets decided to throw us a party on our wedding day in exactly the way you would think, by losing 5-4 to the Cincinnati Reds on a walk-off hit in the 10th inning.

Despite the fitting gift by the Mets, anytime I look at my Amazin' wife, I'll always believe that I was the one who walked off with a victory that day.

So in conclusion, I'd like to thank the Mets for being so bad this year. After all, if they had been worth watching for most of the season, I might have decided to spend more time with them instead of developing the loving relationship I now have with my wife. And that, my friends, is indeed one very Happy Recap!

From all of us at Studious Metsimus (Joey Beartran, Yours Truly, Taryn Cooper and...wait a minute...when did Terry Collins become part of the Studious Metsimus staff?), we'd like to thank you for your continued support and wish you and your families a safe and happy New Year. May you all have your own happy recaps in 2011 and beyond!

Wednesday, December 29, 2010

Mets Need The Wright Backup At Third Base

David Wright has his fans. Those are the ones who say he's the face of the franchise and can tell you without giving it much thought how many seasons he's had with a .300+ batting average (five, in case you were wondering) and 100+ RBI (also five).

He also has his haters. Those people will point to his declining batting average and his rising strikeout totals, as well as his "aw, shucks" attitude that doesn't inspire his teammates to raise their game to another level.

One thing David Wright doesn't have is sufficient rest during the season. Since he's expected to be a key cog in the not-so-well-oiled machine, it's difficult to give him too many days off during the regular season, but because he's in the lineup day in and day out, his production tends to suffer more than it should.

Since being promoted to the Mets midway through the 2004 season, Wright has had a number of prolonged slumps. Each time after his manager has given him a routine day of rest, he's responded well after his 24-hour respite.

  • In 2005, Wright began his first full season in the major leagues by starting 32 of the team's first 33 games. With David's batting average down to .255, Willie Randolph gave him a day off. After his one-day layoff, Wright went on a tear over his next 14 games, batting .440 (22-for-50) and lashing out nine extra-base hits to the tune of a .700 slugging percentage.

  • In 2007, David Wright had appeared in every game the Mets played in April and May, but was only hitting .271 with 8 HR and 28 RBI. After getting his first full game off on June 1, Wright responded with a bang, hitting .339 over the next 30 games. He also banged out seven home runs and drove in 21 runs over that month-long stretch.

  • In 2008, the Mets could ill afford to give Wright a day off, but when his batting average had dropped to the mid-.280s in early August, Jerry Manuel knew that he had to give his third baseman a day off. After not playing against the Pirates on August 17, Wright caught his breath and regained his batting stroke, hitting .336 over the team's final 38 games. He also scored 31 runs, to go with 10 HR and 29 RBI.

  • In 2010, Wright played in each of the Mets' first 40 games. However, he was only hitting .262 and was striking out at a record-breaking pace (55 Ks in those 40 games). After getting his first day off of the year, Wright came back with a four RBI, no strikeout game. This type of performance continued over his next 37 games. In those 37 games, Wright hit .359, with 16 doubles, six homers and 37 RBI (an average of one RBI per game). More importantly, he cut down on his strikeouts, fanning a total of 35 times over that stretch.

Of course, sometimes it's difficult to find a good day to give Wright a break, especially if his replacement is one you'd rather not see in the lineup. During the first half of the 2010 season, the Mets played Fernando Tatis at the hot corner whenever Wright was given a day off. After Tatis played his final game of the season on July 4, the role of David Wright's backup went to Mike Hessman. Neither player performed at a level that could afford the team more opportunities to rest their starting third baseman, with Tatis hitting .185 in 65 at-bats and Hessman hitting a paltry .127 in 55 at-bats. It almost made fans long for the days when Chris Woodward and Julio Franco were backing up David Wright.

If David Wright is going to continue to be one of the key components in the lineup, the Mets must find a backup who will not be an automatic out whenever he gets a spot start. Finding that type of player will allow them to give Wright a day off here and there before he goes into those extended slumps. It can also give them a player they can use as trade bait or perhaps a player who can become a starter at another position (a la Angel Pagan, who filled in nicely for Carlos Beltran in 2009 and 2010 and is now an everyday outfielder even with Beltran back in the mix).

Right now, the Mets' 40-man roster doesn't have too many options for the backup role to David Wright. Rule 5 pick Brad Emaus can play some third, but he is mostly a second baseman. Zach Lutz had a promising season in 2010, but that was in AA ball. The only player on the Mets' 40-man roster with major league experience who has played third base before is Daniel Murphy, who played 196 games at the hot corner in 2007 and 2008 while in the minor leagues. Perhaps Sandy Alderson can made a trade for a capable backup infielder. If not, then there's always the free agent route, but there aren't too many reasonable options there (Andy LaRoche, Hank Blalock and Nick Punto, to name a few).

David Wright turned 28 last week. He is now firmly entrenched as one of the veterans on the team. However, if he's going to be counted on to be one of the offensive leaders on the team, he has to be given regular rest in order to fully take advantage of the production he's capable of. Having a roster spot taken up by the likes of Mike Hessman was not the answer in 2010 and having a Hessman-like player in 2011 will not be acceptable.

Simply stated, the Mets must have a productive backup for David Wright on the roster. They have to give him more days of rest during the season, especially when (or better yet, before) he's on one of his "ten strikeouts in six games" streaks. If they don't, Wright's production will continue to suffer as will the Mets' position in the NL East standings. And considering where the Mets have found themselves in the standings over the past two seasons, that's a little too much suffering than any fanbase needs.

Sunday, December 26, 2010

Top Ten Reasons Why The Mets Shouldn't Sign Jeff Francis

The Mets have been looking to add a starting pitcher this offseason. Some of the names being bandied about are Chris Young, Brandon Webb and Freddy Garcia. Another pitcher whose name has been mentioned quite a bit as a potential pickup is Jeff Francis.

Jeff Francis? Really? I mean, really? The man did not pitch at all in 2009 and has a 55-50 career record for the Colorado Rockies. Despite his winning career record, I have found ten reasons why it would be insane for the Mets to even consider signing Jeff Francis, unless if they need someone to pick up the sunflower seeds spit out by Oliver Perez while he's waiting (and waiting...and waiting...) for the phone to ring in the bullpen.


10. Jeff Francis is the ultimate Jekyll and Hyde pitcher. When he's good, he's very good (2.26 ERA, 1.08 WHIP in his 55 career victories). When he's bad, he's Oliver Perez (8.36 ERA, 1.85 WHIP in his 50 career losses).

9. Despite the fact that Francis will be 30 by Opening Day and has been a starting pitcher in the major leagues since 2004, he has only surpassed 200 innings in a season once (215.1 innings in 2007). In that season, he allowed over 300 baserunners (234 hits allowed, 63 walks, 7 hit batsmen).

8. Over his career, Francis has made 149 starts but has only amassed 882.2 innings pitched, an average of less than six innings per start. In 2010, that number went down to just barely above five innings per start (19 starts, 104.1 innings pitched). Since the Mets no longer have Pedro Feliciano (or Turk Wendell for that matter), having a starting pitcher that can give your bullpen a rest is imperative. Jeff Francis is not that man.

7. In his best year (2007), the Colorado Rockies went 17-6 over their final 23 regular season games. How did Jeff Francis do while the rest of the team was going on their amazing September/October run? He went 2-3 with a 4.78 ERA. When the Rockies won 21 out of 22 games from late September to the game in which they won the National League pennant, who was charged with the only loss during that time period? Jeff Francis.

6. Now that we're on the topic of Francis' 2007 season, his one good season was more the result of great run support than outstanding pitching. The Rockies scored six runs or more in half of his 34 starts. What are the odds the Mets can give him that many runs of support?

5. Since the beginning of the 2008 season, Jeff Francis is 8-16 with a 5.01 ERA. Over the same time period, Oliver Perez is 13-16 with a 5.17 ERA. Having Francis on the team might actually make Oliver Perez believe he has a puncher's chance to make the rotation.

4. Nearly one-quarter of his 50 career losses have been against the San Diego Padres. In 21 career starts against the offensively-inept Padres, Francis is 5-12 with a 5.66 ERA. If Francis can't shut down what passes for an offense in San Diego, what chance does he have against the teams in the NL East with better offenses, like the Phillies and the Braves? Speaking of the NL East Champion Phillies and the NL Wild Card-winning Braves...

3. Jeff Francis has been remarkably consistent against the Phillies and the Braves, but not in the way the Mets would like. He has started five games against Philadelphia and five games against Atlanta. He has pitched exactly 26.1 innings against each of the two teams. He has allowed 20 runs (all earned) against the Phillies and 20 runs (19 earned) against the Braves. He has allowed 47 baserunners against each team (36 hits, 11 walks vs. Philadelphia; 39 hits, 8 walks vs. Atlanta). In 10 combined starts against the two teams, Francis is the owner of a hellish 6.66 ERA and 1.78 WHIP.

2. Jeff Francis has worn uniform #26 throughout his major league career. Needless to say, if the Mets were desperate enough to sign him, Dave Kingman would be very upset that his number was given to a schlub like Jeff Francis.

1. If Francis were to falter in the Mets' rotation, Oliver Perez might be called upon to replace him. 'Nuff said.

Monday, December 20, 2010

Joey's Soapbox: My Rendezvous With Keith Hernandez

As any longtime reader of Studious Metsimus would know, I have always wanted to meet Keith Hernandez. Ever since I witnessed him feed corn chips to a bear on television during the 17-inning game against the Astros (the game in which Carlos Beltran made a game-saving over-the-shoulder catch while running up Tal's Hill in straightaway center field) in 2007, I knew I had to meet Keith.

This weekend I found out that Keith was going to be at Darryl Strawberry's restaurant in Douglaston, Queens. So I went through my planner and canceled all of my appointments, most of which involved having cookies, to make sure that I could meet my idol.

I'm Joey Beartran and in today's edition of my soapbox, we're going to talk about my rendezvous (that's French for "rendezvous") with legendary Mets first baseman and SNY analyst Keith Hernandez.

We did not have reservations to the event (no thanks to my Studious Metsimus colleague) so we got to Strawberry's a little before 4pm. Since Keith was not due to appear until 6pm, we sat at the bar and waited patiently for him.

As we approached 6pm, the restaurant started to get quite crowded in anticipation of Keith's arrival. Then 6 o'clock came and went with no Keith. I looked at colleague's watch. 6:05, no Keith. 6:10, no Keith. 6:15, you get the picture.

I assumed there was a Tootsie Pop convention that had run a little late. That was the only explanation I could think of for Keith's tardiness. So I decided to pass the time by having a little bar food, and by bar food, I mean a big 10-ounce burger with smoked applewood bacon and horseradish sauce served on an English muffin with a large side order of tater tots. I call this my appetizer.

The clock kept ticking and Keith still hadn't arrived. It was well past 6 o'tot, I mean, o'clock. Where was Keith? The fans were getting antsy and I was finishing my appetizer. Something had to happen soon!

And then it did. The great Keith Hernandez walked into the building.

He walked into the booth reserved for him and ordered an adult beverage. Then the fans with reservations started lining up to meet and greet the man who's a hero to corn chip-eating bears across America, and perhaps, the world.

In between the handshaking, picture taking and autograph making, Keith appeared to be quite interested in the college football game on the TV over the bar. Since I didn't think it was possible for anyone to have a rooting interest in a Northern Illinois-Fresno State Humanitarian Bowl matchup, I assumed he was looking for me.

Let's flash back to when we got to Strawberry's. We spoke to Olivia, who's in charge of the Strawberry's Facebook and Twitter pages, as well as their event planning. Although she spoke to my colleague, she couldn't help but be charmed by my bearish good looks and outgoing personality. This would come in handy a few hours later...

...It is now a few hours later. As the people with reservations were still snaking around the restaurant in a line to meet Keith, Olivia came up to us and told us "you're on" and escorted us to the back of the line. It was finally going to happen. I was going to meet Keith Hernandez!

A few minutes later we finally got to Keith's booth. Although only one photo was allowed per person, I used my Studious Metsimus credentials (a.k.a. the people I came to the restaurant with) to get two photos with my idol, which I now share with you below.

There were hundreds of people there to see Keith and he took photos with everyone in line and gave autographs to all of them. I was going to ask him if his contract with Just For Men had expired since I did notice some gray hairs smiling for the camera, but I refrained from doing so. What does it matter anyway? After all, he's Keith Hernandez!

Although his appearance was only supposed to last until 7:30pm, he stayed past that time, making sure all of his fans were accommodated. Keith was a good sport the whole time.

I will never forget that magic Saturday night in Douglaston. From the great appetizer to meeting my idol to getting his autograph, it was a perfect night. I was too excited to ask him to feed me corn chips (and yes, I did bring a bag of Frito's corn chips with me...I'd also like to say that because of the free Frito's product plug in this blog, I'd like to be compensated with some additional bags), but that didn't take away from a terrific evening.

I'd like to thank Olivia and Strawberry's Sports Grill for having me as a guest for the meet and greet with Keith Hernandez. Now it's time for me to get off my soapbox. All this talk about corn chips is making me hungry!

To see more pictures from this event, please click HERE to view my colleague's Facebook photo album.

Friday, December 17, 2010

Joey's Soapbox: A Perpetual Thank You To Pedro Feliciano

Pedro Feliciano, who was the longest tenured Met, is now the shortest tenured Yankee.

I'm Joey Beartran and it is my sad duty to inform you that Pedro Feliciano has signed a two-year, $8 million deal with the Bronx Bummers today. The deal will be finalized once Feliciano passes his physical.

So ends the saga of Perpetual Pedro, the man who I befriended in Port St. Lucie this past winter (see photo above).

Many of you might know Feliciano as the lefty specialist who kept breaking his own franchise record for games pitched year after year. I know him as a gentleman, a man whose kindness to teddy bears was only rivaled by his ferocity towards left-handed hitters.

From the first time I met him at Spring Training in Port St. Lucie, when he held me and told me that I looked like his twin, to the time I saw him giving autographs to his teddy bear fans (see photo below), Perpetual Pedro endeared himself to me as the biggest teddy bear to put on a Mets uniform.

Now he will take his talent and love of bears over to the Bronx, where he will called upon to handle the newest lefties signed by the Boston Red Sox (Adrian Gonzalez, Carl Crawford), as well as the incumbent southpaws (David Ortiz, J.D. Drew, Jacoby Ellsbury).

Perhaps he will continue to pitch in 90+ games as a member of the Yankees. Perhaps age and a stronger league will cause him to lose his edge (which I'm sure Derek Jeter can help him with since he apparently has an Edge) against left-handed batters.

But there is one thing I know for sure. Pedro Feliciano may now be a member of the hated Yankees, but he will always be a Met in my heart.

Competitive on the mound and classy off it, Feliciano will be missed by Mets fans and teddy bears alike.

I tip my floppy hat to Pedro Feliciano, my twin and my friend. Good luck to you from your fellow southpaw. You will always bring cheer to teddy bears and fear to lefty bats.

Thursday, December 16, 2010

To The Needy, Carlos Beltran Will Always Be An All-Star

The best centerfielders in the game are the ones who cover the most ground. By doing so, they make everything easier for those around them. That's exactly what Carlos Beltran has been doing recently, as he's been spotted all over New York this week.

First, he appeared at Citi Field for the MVP Reception on Tuesday. On Wednesday, he answered questions from Mets fans via Twitter. But the biggest thing he did this week did not happen at Citi Field.

Yesterday, Carlos Beltran showed why he's an All-Star off the field as well as on it, by teaming up with Goya Foods and City Harvest to distribute food to New Yorkers in need.

The Mets' centerfielder was in Washington Heights in sub-freezing temperatures to hand out 20,000 pounds of food to residents who would otherwise have difficulty feeding their families this holiday season.

When asked about the need to help those who are in the most dire straits, Beltran offered this statement:

"I think for players, what you do on the field is great. But what you do off the field, for me, that's more important. Life is about impacting other people. It's not about what you do for you, it's what you do for other people."

Kudos to Carlos Beltran for not only recognizing that there are more important things in life than baseball, but for doing his part to give back to the community that has embraced him throughout his six-year stay (and counting) as a New York Met.

Despite all the trade talk and speculation about what position he's going to play next year for the Mets, Carlos Beltran hasn't forgotten that baseball gave him all the wonderful things he has in life. It's refreshing to know that he's taking his gift for playing the game and using it to help those who might have trouble helping themselves.

Carlos Beltran is the true definition of an All-Star and because of it, many New Yorkers will have a happy holiday season this year.

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Highlights From The Mets MVP Reception and Coat Drive

Over the past few weeks, the headlines have been dominated by big free-agent signings and contract extensions (Cliff Lee, Carl Crawford, Jayson Werth, Adrian Gonzalez). None of these headlines have involved the Mets.

Instead, the Mets have been trying to attract the fanbase back into the fold even though most of those fans know that it will be difficult to compete in the National League East in 2011 with the current roster they have. To do so, the Mets held an MVP Reception at Citi Field last night and a Coat Drive today, which was attended by various members of the Mets organization.

The Studious Metsimus staff was on hand last night at the MVP Reception and today at the Coat Drive. Here are some highlights of both events, accompanied by the gazillion photos you've come to love and expect in a Studious Metsimus blog.

I must say that I was impressed with the way the Mets handled this event, which was held in the Caesar's Club. There was plenty of free food and free drinks (including adult beverages). Of course, no one seemed to care about food and drink once the players came in.

Ike Davis was the first player to make an appearance. He was followed by Carlos Beltran and Jason Bay. They all posed for photos and made small talk with the guests. Ike was even kind enough to pose for a photograph with Studious Metsimus co-blogger and culinary expert Joey Beartran, while Jason Bay decided to one-up the Mets' first baseman by taking a picture with both of us.

Mets manager Terry Collins and general manager Sandy Alderson also appeared and took photos with fans during the event. Both men were quite affable, as Collins seemed genuinely happy with the turnout and Alderson asked every person he talked to for their names, making each conversation he had with fans seem much more personal. They both get two thumbs up from me and two paws up from Joey for going the extra 60 feet, six inches for the fans.

David Wright was also part of the welcoming committee, but he either did not appear for photos or was too busy practicing how to stick out his tongue at every photo op, such as in these pictures taken at the Coat Drive.

After approximately one hour of mingling with the players, Mets fans took to their seats and Wright, Bay, Alderson, Collins, Beltran and Davis sat up on the stage set up for them.

The emcee for the evening was none other than Met legend and current SNY analyst Ron Darling, who started the Q & A session by asking a few general questions for the panel and then taking questions from the fans. Mets' P.A. announcer Alex Anthony was also on hand to share his microphone with the fans asking questions.

Some questions were typical, such as what's your favorite ballpark to play in other than Citi Field? (Davis and Beltran both chose Wrigley Field in Chicago, while Bay picked Coors Field in Denver and Wright selected Dodger Stadium in Los Angeles.) Jason Bay was also asked if he'd like the fences moved in, to which he responded by saying that he'd like them moved in by about 40 feet. (I guess he must want to crash into them a few seconds earlier.)

Sandy Alderson and Terry Collins answered their questions directly and with passion. I have no doubt that Terry Collins is a fiery manager. You could hear it in his voice as he answered each question. He and Carlos Beltran also provided the comic relief for the night when Beltran referred to what he would do whenever Collins' fire would burn on the field a little too much.

Carlos Beltran: Every time Terry is fined by the league, I will pay it for him.

Terry Collins: I'm glad you make a lot of money.

Speaking of Carlos, Sandy Alderson gave Mets fans reassurance when he said that he is NOT looking to trade Beltran. Alderson stated that he expects Carlos to be a contributing factor on the Mets for the entire 2011 season.

Upon hearing the good news, Carlos was so overjoyed that he broke into an impromptu version of John Fogerty's song, "Centerfield", which he dedicated to his general manager.

One young fan asked the question of the night when he asked the panel what they were going to do about their walk to strikeout ratio. Upon hearing the question, David Wright assumed the question was for him.

It was one of the lighter moments for Wright, who answered every other question asked of him in his usual let's-not-offend-anyone, politically correct way. It was enough to make a $17 million man want to go to sleep.

Speaking of Wright, once the Q & A session ended, he was whisked away immediately. I did not see him take any additional photos or talk to any fans, like other players did. MC Ronnie stuck around to talk to fans. Even Jeff Wilpon was going up to fans and shaking their hands. David? Not so much.

Approximately 18 hours after the MVP Reception, the Mets hosted their annual Coat Drive. The turnout was great and many coats were collected for the needy. However, the way the Mets handled the so-called meet and greet with the players left a little (okay, a lot) to be desired.

First, Terry Collins, Ike Davis, Jason Bay and David Wright were supposed to appear for one hour, from 11am to 12pm. After I dropped off my coat at 10:55am, I went into the press conference room to get my voucher for two free tickets to a select game in April (a nice gesture by the Mets). Approximately 100 fans were waiting in the room, many seated in the chairs provided, while others remained standing. At about 11:10am, members of security came in to say that no Mets were going to appear in that room because they were going to be outside.

Fine. Everyone in the room rushed outside, at which time Collins, Davis and Bay came along in their Mets jackets. Who wasn't part of the group? You guessed it. David Wright. He came along a few minutes later with his entourage of security personnel. You know the ones. They're the ones who weren't needed for the manager, the first baseman and the $15.5 million per year leftfielder.

So after a brief public relations moment, where Mets photographers snapped away at the foursome stuffing the collected coats into boxes, Terry Collins and Jason Bay were whisked away to the left side of the Gil Hodges VIP entrance, while Ike Davis and David Wright were moved to the right side.

Naturally, being a 38-year-old married man, I went over to where all the screaming young girls were to try to take pictures of Davis and Wright, especially since I couldn't take a photo with David Wright at the MVP Reception the previous evening.

I did get a nice closeup shot of Ike Davis' bearded head, which you can see below.

However, just like a vampire, David Wright was a little harder to photograph. Between the Twilight Saga-loving pre-pubescent girls who wanted to be with David Wright (and the guy who plays first - what's his name?) and the little league boys who just wanted to be David Wright, it was a madhouse to say the least.

The fans were surrounding Davis and Wright, even though the overwhelming majority were screaming out that one line should be formed. That would have made the most sense to keep things organized and to guarantee that everyone could take their pictures with the two infielders. But since when do the Mets do things that make sense?

The security person insisted on telling people to back away, not motioning for them to make a straight line. After only five minutes and barely ten fans getting their photos taken with Davis and Wright, all of the players waved their goodbyes and left. It was 11:22am. The one-hour meet-and-greet with the players turned out to be 12 minutes long, or about as long as it takes for Oliver Perez to walk the bases loaded, wild pitch the first run home, then give up a long home run when he finally throws the ball down the middle of the plate.

Oh well, at least I donated a coat for a good cause and got this picture of Mr. Met.

So let's recap the two days of events. The reception was handled very well, with the exception of David Wright's sleep-inducing answers and no-show at individual photo sessions. The coat drive didn't go as expected and Mr. Wright again did his own thing while the other members of the Mets were outgoing and friendly.

Maybe we should change the vowels in his first name and call him Diva'd Wright. It would be an appropriate name for the player everyone looks up to while he looks down on them.

On that note, we'll leave you with one more photo. This photo from the MVP Reception appears to foreshadow how Ike Davis was going to feel the following day at the Coat Drive when Diva'd Wright got all the attention and he had to be in the background of everyone's photos. Merry Christmas to all and to all, a good Wright!

For more photos from both events, please click HERE to see our Facebook photo album. You'll be glad you did.

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Ho-LEE $#!% !!

Wasn't Cliff Lee upset after the 2009 season when the Phillies traded him to the Seattle Mariners in order to make room for Roy Halladay's contract extension? Apparently, he wasn't upset enough.

The mystery team vying for Cliff Lee's services was the Philadelphia Phillies and there is no longer any mystery surrounding Cliff Lee's decision as to where he'll be pitching in 2011, as the southpaw spurned the Yankees and Rangers to sign a five-year, $120 million with the Mets' rivals in Philadelphia.

According to a tweet by Ken Rosenthal, the deal can be worth as much as $135 million for six years if the option is vested. Jon Heyman tweets that the sixth-year option will kick in if Lee pitches 200 innings in 2015 (the year he turns 37) or if he pitches a combined 400 innings between 2014 and 2015.

The $24 million average annual value for the five years of Lee's deal gives Lee the highest AAV of any pitcher in baseball, surpassing the $23 million average annual value of CC Sabathia's seven-year contract with the Yankees. Not bad for a pitcher who is a combined 26-22 since his Cy Young Award-winning season in 2008.

Let's face it. If you take out Cliff Lee's two best seasons in the major leagues (18-5 in 2005 and 22-3 in 2008), Lee's career won-loss record is 62-53. To put that into perspective, in six years as a member of the New York Mets, the great Steve Trachsel went 66-59.

Cliff Lee has only had one season with an ERA under 3.00 (2.54 in 2008). He has never struck out 200 batters in a season. He has also given up more hits than innings pitched over his entire career (1419 hits allowed over 1409 innings), including the 2009 season, when he gave up more hits (245) than any pitcher in the major leagues.

Of course, none of this matters to the Philadelphia Phillies, who consider that to be good enough to warrant a $24 million per year salary that will take him through age 37 and possibly age 38 if the sixth year option vests.

Despite the obvious overpayment for a pitcher with Cliff Lee's credentials, the Phillies can boast that they have perhaps the best starting four in the major leagues now that Lee has joined his brother Roy (Halladay) and his other brother Roy (Oswalt), along with the longest-tenured Phillie of the group, Cole Hamels.

With Johan Santana's status uncertain, the Mets will probably trot out Mike Pelfrey to the mound on Opening Day. Big Pelf would probably be the Phillies' fifth starter in 2011. The gap between the Phillies' starting staff and the Mets' rotation is wider than the geographical one between the two cities.

The Phillies now have Cliff Lee while the Mets still have Ollie P. The 2011 season might be over before the first "O say, can you see".

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

He's The DJ, I'm The Catcher

Sandy Alderson told us that he wasn't going to make any major moves during the Late Fall Meetings. There were be no Cliff Lees or Carl Crawfords under the Festivus Pole for Mets fans. Instead, we'll be treated to the relief work of D.J. Carrasco and the catching skills of Ronny Paulino.

So what do we know about our two latest acquisitions? And will these signings help or hurt the Mets? Let's dig through the stat book.

D.J. Carrasco will turn 34 during the second week of the upcoming season. He is the true definition of a journeyman pitcher.

He was drafted by the Baltimore Orioles in 1997, never playing for them. Since then, he has been in the organizations of the Cleveland Indians, Pittsburgh Pirates, Kansas City Royals, Chicago White Sox and Arizona Diamondbacks. He also pitched for the Fukuoka (watch your mouth!) Softbank Hawks of the Japanese Pacific League. Basically, he was due to be a member of the Mets at some point.

Despite playing for more teams than Jamie Moyer has birthday candles, D.J. Carrasco has lowered his ERA in each of the last five seasons he's played in the major leagues. He went from a high of 4.84 in 2004 as a member of the White Sox to last year's career-low of 3.68 (3.88 with Pittsburgh and 3.18 with Arizona).

There is only one problem with D.J. Carrasco. He's fine over his career when he pitches with no one on base (lifetime .240 batting average against him with the bases empty). It's when he pitches from the stretch that batters take advantage. Over his major league career, opposing batters have hit .303 against Carrasco with runners on base. They also hit .300 against him with runners in scoring position and a whopping .446 when the sacks are full.

Again, please note that those lofty batting averages were not compiled over the course of one season. Those are his CAREER numbers, a career that goes back to 2003 and spans 244 major league appearances.

The verdict: Terry Collins better use him at the start of an inning when there's no one on base, because if he brings him in to put out a fire started by another pitcher, the team is going to get burned.

Now let's dissect Ronny Paulino. Since being promoted to the major leagues in 2005, Paulino has played for two teams. After a cup of coffee with the Pirates in 2005, Paulino became their regular catcher in 2006 and surprised everyone (himself included) by hitting .310 in 129 games (Paulino had a .280 career batting average in the minor leagues).

In his second full season, his power increased, going from 19 doubles and 6 HR in 2006 to 25 doubles and 11 HR in 2007. However, his batting average suffered, going down to .263. In 2008, he lost his starting job to Ryan Doumit and then was traded everywhere during that offseason.

After the completion of the 2008 season, Paulino was first traded from Pittsburgh to Philadelphia, who then traded him to San Francisco, who then sent him to Florida, where he spent two seasons as their catcher.

In those two seasons as a Marlin, Paulino's numbers were less than spectacular. In 555 at-bats, he hit .265, with 28 doubles, 12 HR and 64 RBI.

Paulino does bring a few positives to the Mets. In Florida, he became experienced with handling a young pitching staff. With Johan Santana out for the beginning of the season, the rotation will include Mike Pelfrey, Jonathon Niese and perhaps Dillon Gee, all of whom are 27 or younger.

On the offensive side, Paulino is a strong second-half hitter. Over his career, he has hit .290 over the second half of the season (as opposed to .263 in the first half). He is also a clutch hitter. With no one on base, Paulino has a career .262 batting average and .305 on-base percentage. Those numbers increase to .288/.355 with men on base and .287/.358 with runners in scoring position.

With Josh Thole batting from the left side of the plate, Ronny Paulino (a right-handed hitter) will be depended on to bat against left-handed pitching. This is where he excels the most. Against lefties, Paulino is a career .338 hitter and makes outstanding contact, striking out only 67 times in 531 career plate appearances against southpaws.

The verdict: Ronny Paulino will make a fine addition to the Mets, especially as a potential platoon partner (say that five times fast) with Josh Thole. He owns left-handed pitching and has the potential to be an excellent handler of the young Mets staff. (Please note: Paulino is currently serving a 50-game suspension for using a banned substance. As a result, he will not be able to play for the first eight games of the 2011 season, as he has already missed 42 of the 50 games.)

So there you have the Mets' two big Late Fall Meetings acquisitions. Neither player is a sexy pickup, but they both fit under the budget and at the very least, Paulino could prove effective both at the plate and behind it. As long as Carrasco isn't misused (i.e. with men on base), he might not receive the Scott Schoeneweis Serenade (they sound an awful lot like boos) at Citi Field.

D.J. Carrasco and Ronny Paulino. Get used to them because you may be seeing an awful lot of them in 2011 at Citi Field.

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

The Seven Year Pitch

Jayson Werth just signed a seven-year deal with the Washington Nationals. Cliff Lee is looking for a seven-year deal as well, with the Nationals perhaps willing to give it to him. Players have always been attracted to the almighty dollar at free agent time, but now more than ever, the length of the contract is becoming as important, if not more important, than the number of digits next to the dollar sign.

But is this the right way to go for the teams throwing all that cash on the table? And should they be giving these contracts to players on the wrong side of age 30? Recent history says no.

Remember Mike Hampton? He was the pitcher who was traded by the Astros to the Mets following the 1999 season, a year in which he went 22-4 for Houston. Hampton helped lead the Mets to the World Series, but then left New York for (as he put it) the better school systems in Colorado. The Mets were willing to give him a lucrative deal, but the Rockies were the ones offering the security of an eight-year contract.

The left-handed Hampton left New York after one season, went to Colorado, and watched his talent dissipate in Denver's thin air. During the eight years of his contract (split between Colorado and Atlanta), Hampton won a grand total of 56 games with an ERA of 4.81. But at least his kids benefited from the superior Denver school system.

Hampton is not the only player in recent years to have signed a deal of seven years or more who didn't live up to his contract. In fact, several others have taken a stretch of success, turned it into a long-term contract and then laughed all the way to the bank while his production suffered. Check out what these players did prior to their big paydays followed by their production after they put their John Hancocks on their contracts.

Kevin Brown
  • 1996: 17-11, 1.89 ERA, 0.94 WHIP, 159 Ks
  • 1997: 16-8, 2.69 ERA, 1.18 WHIP, 205 Ks
  • 1998: 18-7, 2.38 ERA, 1.07 WHIP, 257 Ks

Kevin Brown signed a seven-year, $105 million contract with the Los Angeles Dodgers prior to the 1999 season. His first three years in LA were very good, as he went 41-19 with a 2.77 ERA. Once he entered the middle year of his contract, he became more brittle and his performance suffered, culminating with his trade to the Yankees following the 2003 season.

Over the last four years of his contract, Brown won only 31 games and his ERA went up by more than one run (3.81). In the final season of his contract, he was a shadow of himself, going 4-7 with a 6.50 ERA. The once-dominant pitcher who always had a high strikeout total and low ERA actually allowed more earned runs (53) than had strikeouts (50) in his final major league season.

Ken Griffey, Jr.
  • 1996: .303, 49 HR, 140 RBI, 125 runs scored
  • 1997: .304, 56 HR, 147 RBI, 125 runs scored
  • 1998: .284, 56 HR, 146 RBI, 120 runs scored
  • 1999: .285, 48 HR, 134 RBI, 123 runs scored

The man known as The Kid was already the most popular athlete in baseball in the late '90s, despite playing in the relative obscurity of Seattle. But when his contract expired after the 1999 season, he wanted to go back home. So he left the Pacific Northwest and signed a nine-year, $116.5 million contract to play for the Cincinnati Reds.

His first season in the Queen City wasn't as eye-popping as his last four years in Seattle, but how can anyone be disappointed with a .271 batting average, 40 HR, 118 RBI and 100 runs scored? Unfortunately, that was the best performance he was able to give the Reds.

Following the 2000 season, injury after injury befell The Kid and he was never the same player. Over the last eight years of his contract, Griffey missed a total of 455 games (or the equivalent of nearly three full seasons). He averaged 22 HR and 63 RBI over those seasons, to go with a .269 batting average. When he returned to Seattle to finish out his career, he could barely reach the Mendoza Line, hitting .208 in his final season and a half with the Mariners.

Jason Giambi
  • 1999: .315, 33 HR, 123 RBI, 115 runs scored
  • 2000: .333, 43 HR, 137 RBI, 108 runs scored
  • 2001: .342, 38 HR, 120 RBI, 109 runs scored

With those three dominant seasons in Oakland, you knew the Yankees were going to open up their wallets for Giambi once he became a free agent. And that's exactly what they did when they signed the Giambino for seven years at $120 million.

His first year in pinstripes was as good as his last three years in Oakland, as Giambi finished the 2002 season with a .314 batting average, to go with his 41 HR and 122 RBI. His power was still there in 2003 (41 HR, 107 RBI), but his batting average plummeted to .250. The downward trend in batting average continued throughout the rest of his Yankee career. Over the final five years of his contract, Giambi hit .247. He never hit 40 HR again and only had one other 100 RBI season (2006).

What do Kevin Brown, Ken Griffey Jr. and Jason Giambi all have in common besides their poor production after signing their lucrative long-term deals? They were all in their 30s when they signed their contracts.

Kevin Brown did not throw his first pitch as a Dodger until he was 34. Ken Griffey, Jr. was no longer a spry youth when he signed with Cincinnati as a 30-year-old. Jason Giambi put on the Yankee pinstripes for the first time when he was 31.

What about Mike Hampton? Well, he was the baby of the group, as he signed his eight-year deal with Colorado at the age of 28. However, his contract lasted until he was 36, putting him in his 30s for the majority of the deal.

I haven't even mentioned the most recent disappointment signed to a long-term deal, and it's better if we don't say too much about him. After all, Barry Zito might have become a member of the Mets pitching staff in 2007, but the front office was smart enough not to offer him the seven-year deal that he eventually received from the San Francisco Giants.

Like Hampton, the left-handed Zito was 28 when he crossed the Bay Bridge from Oakland to San Francisco. Once he left the East Bay, the Barry Zito that won 102 games in seven years as an Oakland Athletic disappeared into the San Francisco fog.

Zito has yet to post a winning record in any of his four seasons in San Francisco. His 17 losses led the National League in 2008 and his continued subpar performances led the Giants to leave him off the postseason roster in 2010. They spent $126 million in the hopes that Barry Zito would help them win a championship and in 2010, they won that championship without him.

If that $126 million figure given to Barry Zito over seven years sounds familiar to you, it should. That's the same amount of money and years that the Nationals just gave to Jayson Werth, the man without a 100 RBI season and whose only All-Star Game appearance came as a result of an injury to Mets centerfielder Carlos Beltran in 2009.

It should be noted that Jayson Werth is 31. Cliff Lee, who is also looking for a seven-year deal, is 32. The seven year pitch has become quite popular with today's aging stars. Some owners are still crazy enough to dole out these long-term deals. However, if they all just studied the recent history of baseball and similar contracts, they'd know that seven is not always a lucky number, especially with players past their prime.

Monday, December 6, 2010

Why All The Interest In Russell Martin?

It's Day One of the Late Fall Meetings and there have already been a number of moves made. Mark Reynolds was traded from Arizona to Baltimore, taking his Citi Field home run launcher with him. The Adrian Gonzalez trade to Boston (and subsequent contract extension) was finalized. Also, former Met Melvin Mora signed a one-year deal with Arizona.

What have the Mets done? They signed two players to minor league deals.

Although Sandy Alderson has said that the Mets will not make many moves in the offseason, they have developed an interest in Dodger catcher Russell Martin. As tweeted by Buster Olney, the Mets were one of four teams that asked to review Martin's medical information (Red Sox, Yankees and Blue Jays were the others).

Martin would more than likely sign a one-year deal with the team he chooses and the Mets would use him in the event that Josh Thole has difficulty handling the everyday catching duties.

But why Russell Martin? Although he is just now entering his prime (Martin will be 28 in February), his production has slipped considerably since his breakout 2007 season, as seen below:

  • 2007: .293, 19 HR, 87 RBI, 87 runs, 21 SB, 32 doubles
  • 2008: .280, 13 HR, 69 RBI, 87 runs, 18 SB, 25 doubles
  • 2009: .250, 7 HR, 53 RBI, 63 runs, 11 SB, 19 doubles
  • 2010: .248, 5 HR, 26 RBI, 45 runs, 6 SB, 13 doubles

From 2007-2009, Martin had over 500 at-bats each season, which decreased to 331 in 2010. Still, players in their mid-to-late 20s don't usually start producing less unless something is wrong with them.

Russell Martin is clearly a shadow of the player he used to be. Yet the Mets are still looking into the possibility of bringing him over to New York.

Is it because the Mets are obsessed with signing or trading for every former Dodger catcher (Mike Piazza in 1998, Paul Lo Duca in 2006)? Is it because they miss Frenchy so much that they feel the need to replace him with a French Canadian?

No, my friends. If we take a deeper look into the stats, we might be able to uncover the reasons as to why Sandy Alderson and the Mets appear to be going head over heels over Russell Martin.

Although Martin's last four seasons have produced a .293, .280, .250 and .248 batting average, his on-base percentages in those years have been .374, .385, .352 and .347. In fact, over his five-year career in the big leagues, Martin's OBP is an above-average .365. The Mets' team OBP in 2010 was .314 and no regular player had an on-base percentage above .354 (David Wright). Josh Thole, who only picked up 202 at-bats, was the only Met with a higher on-base percentage than David Wright, but his .357 OBP was still lower than Martin's career percentage.

So although Russell Martin's offensive production has gone down, he is still finding ways to get on base. As we know, Sandy Alderson and his Merry Men LOOOOOOOOOOVE guys who can get on base, and since Alderson has stated that he's not sure if Thole can be a #1 catcher, a player like Russell Martin would satisfy his need for another catcher and fulfill his dream to acquire every player who knows the meaning of "ball four".

The Russell Martin deal might not happen, but that doesn't mean he wouldn't be a good fit for the Mets. If other teams become hesitant to sign him, you never know. He may just be in Flushing next year.

Sunday, December 5, 2010

Jayson's Not Werth-y Of His New Contract

Wayne and Garth wouldn't bow down to him, so why did the Nationals do so when they signed Jayson Werth to a seven-year, $126 million deal? In a recently announced deal, the 31-year-old Werth left the supercharged offense of the Phillies to become the main man in the Adam Dunn-less Nationals lineup, where he and Ryan Zimmerman will be the main power threats in a not-so-cozy ballpark.

Let's analyze this from a Mets standpoint. Prior to the 2005 season, the Mets signed Carlos Beltran to a seven-year, $119 million contract. The deal was signed after Beltran completed a phenomenal season split between the Kansas City Royals and the Houston Astros, a season in which he picked up 38 HR and 42 SB. His power/speed numbers weren't the only thing that made him so desirable.

Beltran was also a consistent run producer for Royals and Astros, scoring and driving in 100+ runs in each of the four seasons prior to his mega-deal with the Mets. Here are Beltran's numbers from 2001-2004, the four-year stretch before he became a Met:

  • 2001: .306, 24 HR, 101 RBI, 106 runs, 31 SB, 120 Ks
  • 2002: .273, 29 HR, 105 RBI, 114 runs, 35 SB, 135 Ks
  • 2003: .307, 26 HR, 100 RBI, 102 runs, 41 SB, 81 Ks
  • 2004: .267, 38 HR, 104 RBI, 121 runs, 42 SB, 101 Ks

For the four years, Beltran averaged .288, 29 HR, 102 RBI, 111 runs, 37 SB and 109 Ks. Jayson Werth became a full-time player in 2008. Let's see what he's done over the past three seasons.

  • 2008: .273, 24 HR, 67 RBI, 73 runs, 20 SB, 119 Ks
  • 2009: .268, 36 HR, 99 RBI, 98 runs, 20 SB, 156 Ks
  • 2010: .296, 27 HR, 85 RBI, 106 runs, 13 SB, 147 Ks

In the three seasons since Werth became an everyday player for the Phillies, he has averaged .279, 29 HR, 84 RBI, 92 runs, 18 SB and 141 Ks. He has never hit .300 or driven in 100 runs over a full season. Meanwhile, Beltran hit over .300 twice in the four year period prior to being acquired by the Mets and drove in 100 runs EVERY YEAR in that time period.

Think about that. Werth, who hit in a lineup featuring Jimmy Rollins, Shane Victorino, Chase Utley and Ryan Howard, still couldn't pick up a 100 RBI season. Beltran was constantly driving in Kansas City Royals players. Luis Castillo could get 100 RBI on the Phillies and Jayson Werth couldn't?

How can any team pay Jayson Werth $18 million per season for what he did in that Philadelphia lineup? Do they really expect him to repeat those numbers in a bigger home ballpark with a less than star-studded cast surrounding him?

Then there's the seven years. The Mets are regretting the length of Beltran's contract now, as he has constantly been getting injured and at his age (he'll be 34 in April), he has become practically untradeable. When Werth turns 34, he will only be in the third year of his contract, which will not expire until the year he turns 38.

A 7-year, $126 million is not unprecedented in baseball. Barry Zito signed that same deal with the San Francisco Giants prior to the 2007 season. He has been nothing but a disappointment since then. One other thing about that deal - Zito was only 28 when he became a Giant.

Congratulations to the Washington Nationals for swooping in and getting Jayson Werth when no one expected them to. Let's see if they can be as fortunate when they try to trade him in a few years after realizing that they overpaid for a player who was never Werth it.

Saturday, December 4, 2010

At 27, Jose Reyes Is Now The Mets' Longest Tenured Player

With Pedro Feliciano not accepting the Mets' arbitration offer, he can now sign with another team. When he does leave the Mets, he will hand over the title of longest tenured player to Jose Reyes, who has been a Met since 2003.

Feliciano became a Met on August 15, 2002, when Cincinnati traded him to New York for Shawn Estes, the man who couldn't hit Roger Clemens with a pitch, but then hit a Roger Clemens pitch over the wall.

Since then, Feliciano has bounced back and forth, being selected by the Detroit Tigers off waivers in December 2002, then re-signing with the Mets the following April, then leaving for a year to Japan to play for the Fukuoka (watch your mouth!) Daiei Hawks, before returning to the Mets for good in 2006. However, since he never played for another major league team since becoming a Met in 2002, Feliciano kinda sorta held the title of longest tenured Met since the end of the 2006 season.

For all you stat geeks out there, here is the list of longest tenured players on the Mets, going back to the players who were on the Opening Day roster in 1962.

Jim Hickman (1962-1966): Although Ed Kranepool played three games for the Mets in 1962 and then remained with the team until 1979, he was not on the Opening Day roster. Hickman was. The man known as "Gentleman Jim" is known for two "lasts" and two "firsts". He was the last player to hit a home run at the Polo Grounds, accounting for the only run in a 5-1 loss to the Phillies on September 18, 1963. He was also the last of the original Mets, being traded to the Dodgers after the 1966 season, a year in which he became the only Met to appear on the Mets' Opening Day roster in each of their first five seasons. Hickman became the first Mets player to hit for the cycle when he accomplished the feat in 1963 against the Cardinals and was the first Met to hit three home runs in a game, which he achieved in 1965, also against St. Louis.

Ed Kranepool (1967-1979): After Hickman was traded to the Dodgers prior to the 1967 season, Ed Kranepool assumed the role of longest tenured Met, a title he did not give up until he played his last game for New York in 1979. Upon his retirement, Steady Eddie was among the franchise leaders in almost every major category and to this day, remains the Mets' all-time leader in games played (1,853), at-bats (5,436), hits (1,418), singles (1,050) and total bases (2,047).

Ron Hodges (1980-1984): Both Ron Hodges and Craig Swan played for the Mets from 1973-1984, but Hodges made his debut three months before Swannie (Hodges appeared in his first game on June 13, while Swan debuted on September 3). The hard-nosed catcher was with the Mets in good times (the "Ya Gotta Believe" Mets of 1973) and in bad times (the dark ages following the Midnight Massacre in 1977) and finished his career just as the Mets were becoming relevant again in 1984. His last appearance as a Met came as a pinch-hitter in the 1984 season finale. The next time the Mets played a regular season game, Gary Carter was their catcher.

Jesse Orosco (1985-1987): The man who perfected the art of the championship clinching glove toss made his debut with the Mets in 1979 after being traded to the Mets from Minnesota for the other man who specialized in championship clinching victories, Jerry Koosman. Although Orosco did not pitch in the major leagues in 1980, he returned for good in 1981. Once Ron Hodges retired after the 1984 season, Orosco became the only Met left who played for the team in the 1970s. He was traded to the Dodgers after the 1987 season and eventually pitched for just about everyone else on his way to becoming the major league's all-time leader in pitching appearances (1,252 games).

Wally Backman (1988) and Mookie Wilson (1988-1989): After Jesse Orosco left the team, the title of longest tenured Met fell on two players. Both Mookie Wilson and Wally Backman made their major league debuts for the Mets in the same game on September 2, 1980 in Los Angeles. Technically, Mookie Wilson appeared first, batting leadoff against the Dodgers, while Wally Backman batted eighth. The two continued to be integral parts of the Mets from their first game together in 1980 through the 1986 World Series championship and beyond. Backman remained a Met until he was traded to the Twins following the 1988 season, while Mookie Wilson was a Met until the middle of the 1989 season, when he was traded for (gasp) Jeff Musselman.

Terry Leach (1989): Bet you didn't see this one coming, although this one carries an asterisk similar to Pedro Feliciano. Leach made his debut for the Mets in 1981, pitching in 21 games. He repeated his 21-game salute in 1982, then spent the 1983 season in the minors. He was then traded to the Chicago Cubs, who later shipped him off to Atlanta in April 1984. One month later, he was released by the Braves and the following day, the Mets re-signed him. He came back up to the Mets in 1985, where he continued to pitch until the end of the 1989 season. His finest year as a Met came in 1987, when he was moved into the starting rotation because of injuries to various starters. Leach surprised everyone by going 11-1 in his spot-start duties. Short story long, after Mookie Wilson was traded to Toronto in July of 1989, Leach became the longest tenured Met for the rest of the season. Although he was traded twice between 1981 and 1989, he never pitched in the major leagues for a team other than the Mets during that time. But if you don't think Leach should be on this list, then perhaps you'd choose...

Darryl Strawberry (1990): Darryl Strawberry was once dubbed "the black Ted Williams" when he still playing high school ball. Although he never approached the Splendid Splinter's career marks, he is still the most explosive power hitter in Mets history. The franchise leader in home runs (252), RBI (733), runs scored (662), walks (580) and unfortunately, strikeouts (960), the Straw Man first played for the Mets on May 6, 1983 and became the only Met to play from the George Bamberger managerial era to the 1990s.

Ron Darling (1991): When Darryl Strawberry switched coasts to play for his hometown Dodgers, him teammate since the end of the 1983 season, Ron Darling, became the veteran of the team. The answer to the trivia question, "who was the last National League pitcher to win the Gold Glove Award before Greg Maddux started his streak of a bajillion straight Gold Gloves?", Ronnie fell one victory short of becoming only the fourth pitcher in franchise history to win 100 games when he was traded to Montreal on July 15, 1991. Sixteen days later, he was moved to Oakland, where he stayed until his last game in 1995. To this day, the former All-Star and Gold Glove winner remains a beloved Met and his 99 wins rank fourth in franchise history behind Tom Seaver (198), Dwight Gooden (157 - more on him later) and Jerry Koosman (140).

Dwight Gooden (1991-1994): He never went to med school, but the doctor performed surgeries every fifth day, operating on hitters with a blazing fastball and devastating curveball (dubbed Lord Charles). He had the best three-year stretch to start a career of any pitcher, when he went 58-19 with a 2.28 ERA from 1984-1986. He also completed 35 of his 99 starts, with 13 shutouts. And, oh yes. There were the strikeouts. Dr. K set the all-time rookie strikeout record in 1984 when he fanned 276 batters. He followed that up with 268 Ks in his Cy Young Award-winning season (1985), then "only" struck out 200 batters in the Mets' 1986 championship season. Substance abuse and injuries prevented Doc from ever regaining the dominant form he displayed in his first three seasons. However, he did have one final great year in 1990, when he finished 19-7 and registered his fourth (and first since 1986) season of 200 or more strikeouts, by finishing with 223. When he pitched his final game for the Mets in 1994, he became the last member of the 1986 World Champions to take the field as a player in blue and orange.

John Franco (1994-2004): After Ed Kranepool's 18 seasons in New York, John Franco played the most years as a Met, playing from 1990-2004 (he missed the 2002 season with an injury). Once Gooden pitched his last game for the Mets, Franco became the longest tenured Met and didn't give it up until after the 2004 season. Franco is the only Met pitcher to have played for the two winningest managers in Mets history, playing for Davey Johnson in 1990 and Bobby Valentine from 1996-2002 (Todd Hundley is the only other player who did it, having played his first game as a Met ten days before Davey Johnson was fired). He holds the franchise records for games pitched (695 - Pedro Feliciano is a distant second with 459) and saves (276 - Armando Benitez isn't even in the rearview mirror with his 160). Franco is also appearing on the Hall of Fame ballot for the first time in 2011.

Mike Piazza (2005): Mike Piazza became a Met in 1998 after his one week stay as a Florida Marlin ended. His combination of power and batting average was never seen before in a Mets uniform. The future Hall of Famer is the only player to appear twice in the top ten single season batting averages in Mets history (.348 in 1998 and .324 in 2000, good for second and tenth all-time) and also appears twice in the top ten single season home run list (40 in 1999 and 38 in 2000 - his '99 total is now the third highest total in franchise history, while the '00 total is tied for sixth all-time). No other Met appears in BOTH top ten lists. In just eight years as a Met, Piazza left his mark all over the career all-time Met offensive leaders, finishing in the top five in career batting average (4th, .296), on-base percentage (5th, .373), slugging percentage (1st, .542), doubles (5th, 193), home runs (2nd, 200), runs batted in (3rd, 655) and extra-base hits (4th, 415). He not only replaced John Franco as the longest tenured Met after Franco pitched his last game in 2004, but also replaced him as #31 on the Mets, as Franco gave switched from #31 to #45 to accommodate Piazza. Piazza will become eligible for the Hall of Fame in 2013 and might become the second player to be inducted into the Hall as a Met.

Steve Trachsel (2006): Once Piazza waved his final goodbyes as a Met at Shea Stadium, the longest tenured Met became a player who never got the respect he deserved - Steve Trachsel. Although Trachsel was sometimes referred to as the Human Rain Delay II (Mike Hargrove was the original Human Rain Delay) and The Slowest Pitcher On Earth for his deliberate approach to pitching once there were runners on base, he really did spend six years as a Met (2001-2006). It just seemed like one long season because he was so slow to get the ball to the plate. Despite never being a fan-favorite, Trachsel was the winning pitcher in the 2006 NL East division clincher against the Marlins. It might also come as a surprise that Trachsel ranks in the top ten in career wins (his 66 victories are 10th on the Mets' all-time list) and is one of only five Met hurlers to pitch two complete game one-hitters, achieving both in 2003 (the other four are Tom Seaver - who accomplished the feat an Amazin' five times, Gary Gentry, Jon Matlack and David Cone).

Pedro Feliciano (2007-2010): As mentioned before, his inclusion as one of the longest tenured Mets comes with an asterisk, as he was not exclusively the property of the Mets during his stay in New York that began in 2002. He was briefly a member of the Detroit Tigers organization in 2002, but never played for them, as he was released by the Tigers two months after they signed him and re-signed with the prior to the 2003 season. He then played for the Fukuoka Daiei Hawks in the Japanese Pacific League in 2005 before coming back to the Mets for what was arguably his best season in 2006. In that magical season, Feliciano finished with a 7-2 record and a 2.09 ERA. He was also stellar in that year's postseason, appearing in six games against the Dodgers and Cardinals, allowing only one run on two hits in 4 2/3 innings. He was credited with the victory in the NLDS clincher in Los Angeles. From 2008-2010, he earned the monicker Perpetual Pedro for breaking the franchise record for games pitched in each season. He also led the entire National League is appearances each year, pitching in 86 games in 2008, 88 games in 2009 and 92 games in 2010. Feliciano did not accept salary arbitration from the Mets after the 2010 season and is now free to sign with whoever he chooses.

That brings us to Jose Reyes. Since Doc Gooden became the longest tenured Met in 1991 at the age of 26, no Met had become the team veteran while in his 20s until now. Reyes will now assume that title, having played with the Mets since 2003. He and David Wright are the only two players left from the Art Howe era. In fact, with John Maine being non-tendered, Reyes is one of only four players left who played for the Mets in the 2006 postseason. (The others are Wright, Carlos Beltran and - shudder - Oliver Perez. Mike Pelfrey pitched for the Mets during the 2006 regular season, but did not make the postseason roster.)

Our 27-year-old shortstop has been called immature at times. He has also been accused of showing up the opposition and most recently, he has been mentioned in various trade rumors. Despite all this, one thing is certain. He may act like a spoiled child at times, but whether he likes it or not, he is now the veteran of this franchise. Younger players are going to come to him for advice and for tips on how to play the game. A more mature Jose Reyes will have to emerge on the playing field and in the clubhouse. A veteran wouldn't have it any other way.